Aim of the project

Researchers at the Autism Research Centre, University of Cambridge seek to examine whether finding employment can improve mental health and well-being in autistic adults, by comparing job satisfaction, mental health and well-being in autistic adults employed by a supported employment firm, those employed in an unsupported workplace organisation, and those who are unemployed.

They will compare levels of depression, anxiety and well-being in autistic adults who are employed by firms that are employed by neuro-diverse employers and determine what the predictors are of poor mental health and positive well-being in employed and unemployed autistic adults. They will aim to map best practice ‘reasonable adjustments’ for autistic adults in employment.

Importance of research

More than half of autistic adults meet the criteria for depression or anxiety disorder (Joshi et al., 2013), and one third of adults have made suicidal plans or attempted suicide (Cassidy et al., 2014), with unemployment a significant risk factor for depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and poor life satisfaction (Paul & Moser, 2009).

As no single model exists to support autistic people finding and maintaining competitive employment, this study aims to test the value of autism-friendly employment in tackling mental health challenges in autistic adults. Analysis of the data on employment experiences will help identify effective reasonable adjustments that can be implemented in other workplace organisations.

Researchers involved

  • Dr Carrie Allison

Key findings

This will be a one year study running until September 2020